2012-07-10 Reputation Revisited

Some 2½ years ago, I wrote about the reputation mechanics I was using in my D&D 3.5 game. Unfortunately it didn’t quite work out. There just wasn’t any incentive for players to act in order to gain reputation. It was always incidental. In between games, the referee would update reputations and whenever a player was in big trouble, they’d say that they wanted to roll for divine intervention. Unfortunately, they usually didn’t know what their reputation was and with whom it was.

How to increase player involvement? I remembered my first Asian themed D&D 3.5 Kitsunemori campaign. There, players had to roll over their current reputation in order to increase it. That always caused a lot of excitement at the table.

Thus, for my houserules (”D&D Mine” aka. Campaign:Halberds and Helmets) I now require players to roll over their current reputation using a die that represents the magnitude of their deed.

Reputation: Fame and honor can be earned everywhere. Even the gods are interested in the deeds of mortals. Reputation is tracked separately for all the gods, towns and factions. The higher a reputation is, the harder it is to increase it.

In order to gain reputation, roll higher than the current reputation. The starting reputation is 0. Thus, the first time reputation increases, no roll is necessary.

To find an item, to bring it back, to save somethingd4
To rescue a life, to find the victim of a kidnap, to render services to a churchd6
To rescue a village, to help an entire communityd8
To render a service to the godsd12

Gods: In an emergency, reputation also acts as the percentage chance for divine intervention. In addition to that, reputation also limits the circle of miracles (spell levels) available to clerics. Thus, a cleric cannot work any miracles on their first adventure since they are lacking an appropriate reputation.

We’ll see how that works. 🙂



Sounds like a nice and simple method.

Simon 2012-07-11 08:22 UTC

Playing in your game, I found it so hard to actually get reputation that I stopped bothering about it. I surely must have missed opportunities or simply didn’t figure out what would click with you?

Also, is there some kind of infamy stat, i.e. for that priest that simply went and followed the frog gods when things didn’t turn out with his god the way he wanted? That in contrast seemed eerily easy, very much dark-side “it’s a trap” like – without the good side trying to scheme to get their sheep back in the fold. Intentional?

– Harald 2012-07-11 10:10 UTC

Perhaps you are right and getting reputation is too hard. If it happens rarely, people will not think about it. Gaining experience points, on the other hand, happens after every session. Maybe I need to create a stronger ritual at the table. After every social encounter: “Guys, time to roll for your reputation!”

Remember those first adventures? Looking back, I’d say I missed the following opportunities:

  1. when haggling over the contract with the alchemist: gain reputation with Mitra, goddess of contracts and oaths (d4)
  2. when bringing back the glass wares to the alchemist: gain reputation with the alchemists’ guild (d4)
  3. when defeating the bandits: gain reputation with Mitra, goddess of justice (d6)
  4. when dealing with dwarven merchants: gain reputation with the town of Plunder (d4)
  5. when killing assassin frogs: gain reputation with Tsathogga, god of frogs (d6)

As for Onbog’s defection: maybe we could have enjoyed a true back and forth between the forces of law and chaos if the player had stayed with us. We’ll never know if that would have turned out to be a good source of plot hooks. Similarly, as soon as the paladin of Mitra realized that the priest of Nergal had poisoned the wells of Oathcomb, the priest’s player left us. I want to make the struggle of various deities over the character’s fate a part of the game, but it hasn’t really happened, yet. This is also one of the reasons I think the system needs reform – or it needs to be ditched.

As for it being easy to switch to the Dark Side: I guess this is part of my ethos that I have baked into the setting:

  1. all the gods have benefits and drawbacks even if some tend more towards law and others tend more towards chaos I tried to make sure that none of them were “instant death sentences” (eg. even Orcus is important because his priests can raise the dead)
  2. it’s always easier to join the Dark Side

This produces the Sword & Sorcery Fantasy Post-Apocalypse Dying Earth vibe I’m going for, hopefully.

AlexSchroeder 2012-07-11 12:41 UTC

Yeah, I feel like it was unclear to me if I should ask for reputation rolls (Mother May I syndrome); I’ll know better in the future.

Now I need to consider if I want this in the Mystara game … it would actually be quite interesting.

– Harald 2012-07-11 13:55 UTC

It’s not an easy question to answer. I added it because Planescape has belief and it feeds into divine power and a lot of outsiders. Does Mystara have that? I added it because all the gods are ambiguous, so there is no obvious right choice to make. If Mystara has the three local good immortals, how important is it to track reputation? The Immortals boxed set also offers a different end game based on quests and adventures. That would leave reputation for the worldly factions: empire or rebels, duke or baron, elves or humans, or the various towns and cities? I really think that reputation only makes sense in an ambiguous world where players will not really want to choose any of the options wholeheartedly. Much like Skyrim, I guess. Mystara seems to be a lighter world of more clearcut sides and simpler choices, and therefore it’s not immediately obvious that adding reputation per faction would be important.

Perhaps Mystara would benefit of a simpler system: it is assumed that all the characters are part of a culture (social network with shared ethics) and therefore there is but one reputation or fame score to track. We could also say that this is what character levels track and be done with it, I guess?

AlexSchroeder 2012-07-11 14:36 UTC

The way reputation was handled in our Alderking game back then also didnt work for me. It wasnt really clear what the gods wanted and what not and it wasnt really clear when reputation was awarded. Example: Scheming for the downfall of Purdell gained Lerizwan some reputation with Set but Iz got none from Set for assassinating him. Does Set prefer manipulation instead of killing? Why did Lorey then not get any rep for dominating that Drow? Because he used magic instead of natural charms? It wasnt clear what exactly gets rewarded and the reward (better chance for the D100 prayer roll) never came up and was pretty small so no reason to bugger you with “Why didnt I get...” questions.

I think a reputation system needs clear rules for

  • whats the benefit (X amount gives Y bonus for Z)
  • how to gain (either make it clear for every god/faction/city or just provide a log with the results like above and let players figure it out themself)
  • when to gain (after every interaction or session?)

The benefit for the gods is pretty clear but what about citys and factions? A similar roll if you ask them for help? In that case the maximum of 12 reputation seems a bit small.

– Florian 2012-07-12 13:02 UTC

Good point. Maybe a “morale score” – roll this number or lower on 2d6 for a positive reaction?

As for the different treatment of the various player characters, I think this was simply oversight. I didn’t remember often enough, nobody checked what I was doing. It lacked player involvement. Hopefully the new system with the invitation to roll will change that.

AlexSchroeder 2012-07-12 22:03 UTC

Please make sure you contribute only your own work, or work licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Note: in order to facilitate peer review and fight vandalism, we will store your IP number for a number of days. See Privacy Policy for more information. See Info for text formatting rules. You can edit the comment page if you need to fix typos. You can subscribe to new comments by email without leaving a comment.

To save this page you must answer this question:

Just say HELLO